Is Pano Logic the only true zero-client desktop virtualization vendor?

Pano Logic Inc. is gearing up to take on rivals in the nascent zero-client market.

Besides winning a $25 million round of venture capital that brings the total raised by Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup to $45 million, Pano will begin to license the zero-client technology used in its petite, stylish, green (3.5 watts) Pano Device to other hardware manufacturers.

Pano is also starting to openly question the credentials of other vendors of zero clients, which it defines as the smaller, greener and easier-to-manage offspring of today's thin clients.

"Our device is the only zero-client solution out there, period," said Parmeet Chaddha, executive vice-president of engineering for Pano. "It has no CPU, no storage, no local OS, no firmware upgrades, no configuration, no royalty fees."

Chaddha said that rivals are passing off thin client devices with processors and disks as zero clients. It's more than a pedantic issue -- Chaddha said that thin-clients consume more electricity and require more maintenance and updates to keep them running and secure.

By necessity, true zero clients such as Pano Logic's are also more efficient than conventional Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) protocols such as Microsoft 's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).

"Think of us like a PCI interface on the PC, just extended over the wire," he said.

The net result is that Pano Devices are faster and easier and cheaper to operate than conventional desktop PCs repurposed as thin clients, as well as dedicated thin clients that have their own CPU and drive, Chaddha said.

Pano's speed claims were corroborated by a recent group test review held by Network World against rivals NComputing Inc. and Wyse Technology Inc.

But with companies such as Wyse, which is preparing to release new version of its ThinOS codenamed Badger that doesn't require any local storage, will thin clients prove "zero" enough for most customers?

Independent analyst Brian Madden thinks so. "If it looks like zero and feels like zero and doesn't require any management of the client device, who cares what's technically happening on the back end?" he wrote in a recent blog entry.

Pano has 300 customers in production running 25,000 Pano Devices, with another 500 companies piloting it, said Chaddha.

It hopes to jumpstart that by attracting partners to embed the Pano hardware into devices such as LCD monitors, keyboards, even telephones, turning them into VDI-ready endpoints.

As for its technical roadmap, Pano today works only with VMware Inc.'s hypervisor and Windows XP virtual machines. Windows 7 will be available soon, he said, while other hypervisors such as Microsoft's Hyper-V are coming. Pano is "paying attention" to Linux but hasn't committed to supporting it, he said.

Pano is also working on making its software more self-monitoring and easily managed, improving the graphics and multimedia quality, and enabling more USB devices to be plugged into its endpoint devices.

Eric Lai covers Windows and Linux, desktop applications, databases and business intelligence for Computerworld . Follow Eric on Twitter at @ericylai or subscribe to Eric's RSS feed . His e-mail address is elai@computerworld.com .

Read more about virtualization in Computerworld's Virtualization Knowledge Center.

This story, "Is Pano Logic the only true zero-client desktop virtualization vendor?" was originally published by Computerworld.

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